We're melting. Since June 1, more than 6,000 high temperature records have been broken or tied in the U.S. The intense heat is worsening the drought conditions that cover large parts of the Midwest, where 1,297 counties in 29 states have been declared natural disaster areas. Crops are shriveling in the fields, and the ripple effects from their soaring prices will affect many companies and consumers. "Whether it's ethanol or livestock, no one is immune from this pending disaster," says Peter Meyer, senior director for agricultural commodities at PIRA Energy Group. "The ramifications will be widespread, affecting everything from your food to your gasoline."
-with assistance from Bloomberg News reportersSource: Photograph by Jim Weber/AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal